The Cubs bid farewell to HoHoKam
When the Cubs play their final home game of the 2013 spring slate on Thursday, it will mark the end of an era for the North Siders and their fans at HoHoKam Stadium. The organization is constructing a new, state-of-the-art Spring Training facility in Mesa, Ariz., that will be ready for the first pitch of Spring Training 2014, so this will be the last game Cubs personnel will spend in the HoHoKam home dugout.
In the last 35 years, many people associated with the Cubs have made personal connections with HoHoKam Stadium. Here are a few memories they wanted to share.
Mark Gallo, HoHoKam Stadium Manager
“My very first year at the ballpark, I was going out to my truck to leave around 7 p.m. when a car drove up with a Cubs sticker on the window. Inside were a husband and wife who had driven over from California and wanted to see the ballpark. So in we went. I spent the next hour showing Lionel Kipnis and his wife, Evalynn, the field. … Lionel is by far the biggest Cubs fan I know. During the next few days, we became friends, and Lionel discussed with me how much he admired Ron Santo and that he had even named his son after Ron. Lionel told me how much he loved reading about ‘his’ Cubs in Vine Line and how he has saved every edition. Knowing what a fan Lionel was, I surprised him a few days later by having him throw out the first pitch before a packed Spring Training game. Seeing the look on his face when he threw that pitch to Casey Coleman was priceless and a memory that will be etched in my mind forever!”
Michelle Streeter, Visit Mesa
“Sitting in the berm and soaking up Arizona’s desert sunshine.”
Len Kasper, Cubs broadcaster
“My favorite call there is one I still hear about from people who laugh about how excited I got. DJ LeMahieu hit a game-winning home run. I think it was a grand slam, in fact. And I called it like it was a big homer. For DJ, who at the time was a minor leaguer, it was a big deal to hit that home run, especially on WGN. My friends joke with me that my excitement was at least partially due to the fact that the homer helped us avoid Spring Training extra innings, but I was genuinely excited for DJ.”
Tim Sheridan, HoHoKam Stadium PA announcer
“I actually got married at HoHoKam in November 2005. My wife and I got married up on the patio on the third-base line. In the upper tier, there’s a large area where they throw big parties, and we had the ceremony there. Then on the first-base line, they have a similar situation. We had the reception over there. A lot of people said, ‘You’re getting married at a ballpark?’ Kind of scratching their heads. But by the time the wedding was over, we heard, ‘This is the best wedding I’ve ever been to.’”